Is the Future of playout Cloud?

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Screenshot of nxtedition's browser and gallery

Roger and Adam where recently asked to contribute to an article about cloud playout by TVBEurope.
As a ‘live led’ playout solution is a part of the nxtedition system, here they spell out nxteditions ethos towards cloud playout from their perspective.

How long have you been developing software-only, IP-connected technology?

R: We started developing nxtedition in 2012 and our first version was commercial in use in October 2017.

A: We really started with gallery automation but it grew pretty fast from there. We wanted to be more storytelling led and live led so we can now take the seed of a story all the way to it’s final delivery within a single system, that includes playout. It’s quite unique

Where are your systems proven in use?

R: We have 7 systems in use and the 8th is going live at the end of August. So we have installations in:

Nuuk, Greenland
KNR – national broadcasting corporation of Greenland.

nxtedition takes care of their entire broadcasting and radio.operation. This includes all planning, NCRS scripting, MAM, ingest, web & social publishing, news studio and radio studio automation and playout of two terrestrial TV channels, KNR1& KNR2 plus 3 radio channels

Stockholm, Sweden
Expressen​ – evening newspaper
nxtediton takes care of the three TV channels 24/7: Expressen TV (Mainly news and breaking news) DiTV (Economics – in collaboration with the leading financial newspaper in Sweden, Dagens Industri.) Sport Expressen TV (Sports).

We actually automate 5 galleries with nxtedition. For playout we run repeats of the 15 minute news show with fillers and features, but they always have the option to drop in live at any time. It’s effectively a ‘live led’ playout rather than a traditional linear structure. The installation was due to be installed early in March but, due to Covid 19, was installed and staff trained 100% remotely.

Not a single member of nxteditions staff was onsite and project was still delivered on time.

Zurich, Switzerland
Blick TV – an independent tabloid newspaper
Blick TV is a part of Ringier AG – an international Swiss media group. Blick specified a particularly tricky brief that horizontal & vertical video should not re-buffer. They should be constant. This was solved by recording a clean feed along with subtitles and graphics as metadata. That way the app could render the subtitles and graphics in the phone negating the need to send 2 feeds. This creates a revenue stream where a customer can also change the style of the graphics and use Blick TV as a news source.

Aarhus, Denmark
TV2 ØSTJYLLAND – regional news station
TV2 Østjylland is regional TV-station for the main channel TV2 DANMARK. They do 3 regional news shows a day from galleries fully automated by nxtedition.

Copenhagen, Denmark
AFTENSHOWET – journalistic news program
Broadcasted live from Rådhuspladsen on DR1 Monday-Thursday at. 19:00. The evening show is produced in a collaboration between STV Production and Bermuda Production.

Aalborg, Denmark,
TV2 NORD – regional news station
TV2 Nord and is a regional TV-station for the main channel TV2 DANMARK. They are shortly to launch a live stream channel called ‘salto’

Copenhagen, Denmark.
GO’ Morgen Denmark & GO’ Aften Live​ ​– journalistic news program
Nordisk Film produce Go’ Morgen Denmark and Go’ Aften Live are entertaining and up-to-date talk shows that are broadcasted live on TV 2 every day between 06:00 -12:00 and 17:30 – 19:00.

When looking at software-only solutions, do you go for a single-source system, or do you advocate standards-based integration?

A: nxtedition uses web technology primarily and then we adapt to our customers needs. We do integrations to industry standards and appliance APIs where necessary. At the moment we are implementing SRT streaming for example. We have negated the need for a lot of api crosstalk because we encompass so much of the production workflow inside nxtedition.

What are the relative merits of on-premises installations and the cloud?

A: The entire public cloud infrastructure is asynchronous and video is synchronous.

Broadcasting is very hungry: we need a new frame every few milliseconds. Video is synchronous and the public cloud is asynchronous. The Cloud is just not about synchronous delivery, it is about scale.

The core premise of public cloud services was never video. The public clouds power lies in elasticity and scale. Both of those features are great for e-commerce, great for banking because It really doesn’t matter if it takes 100 milliseconds or 220 milliseconds to authorise a credit card transaction. These delays can be problematic in delivering video

This is why we use cloud technologies on our own servers at the clients premises.

Because all our users have a live connection to the server at all times, uploads and downloads are faster, access is faster and features such as predictive real-time fuzzy search and collaboration in scripts are in close to real-time. We only go to public cloud when there are services provided which are suited for off-site processing, like AI services and transcode scaling.

The latency for both video and data is vastly reduced by being on-site, it’s as ‘edge’ as you can get. We effectively run a private cloud at the customers’ site. The software on the nxtedition private cloud servers is the same frameworks and microservices that run in the public cloud but without a long journey up or down.

R: We much prefer blue skies to clouds!

R: Finally there’s cost, every time you touch a public cloud provider there’s a cost involved. Bandwidth cost, compute cost, storage costs, etc, etc. This means cloud based solutions have to constantly ’rightsize’ to be cost efficient. That can mean moving even low-res proxies to cold storage.. that can mean a 2 hour wait just view a proxy uploaded last month. That’s too slow.

What are the advantages for the end-user of software-only systems?

R: nxtedition is a hybrid hardware/software solution rather than a software-only solution. By leveraging the advantages of a hybrid system allows the following advantages, I can list them:

  1. Fast & First
    ​due to the nature of nxtedition clients can cooperate, produce, record and deliver content in a far faster and simpler way.
  2. Remote Working as Standard
    Ability to work and broadcast remotely (as proven during the recent European lockdown).
  3. Future resistant
    ​nxtedition is based on the latest web/cloud technologies. When new technologies emerge nxtedition can easily adapt.
  4. Smart design
    Intuitive, flexible and a well thought through user-interface means less on-air errors.
  5. Revolutionary training lead times.
    ​24 hours of training to become a superuser, 2 hours of training for a journalist.
  6. A Skilled knowledgeable nxtedition team
    a combination of profound & experienced broadcast know-how cross-pollinated with a creative and talented software/hardware development team.
  7. Productivity
    ​due to how easy nxtedition is to use and collaborate there will be more time to produce content and to be more creative.
  8. Single Purchase Point
    ​Since nxtedition takes care of the entire production workflow where will be less UIs, less SLAs, Less support contracts and a lot fewer ‘blame-game’ situations.

Any other thoughts?
R: Our goal is to try to remove all the frustrations and headaches of video production through the innovative use of technology coupled up to vast experience in the broadcast sector.

A: We see that working with our clients today and around that we can feel a tangible sense of evolution in the way nxtedition moves video production to a more efficient and productive process.

The full TVBEurope article can be found here